Saturday, 31 December 2011

Something For The Weekend

It's New Years Eve today so I hope you're all planning to do something fun! I've never been one to go out for New Years, I went to a pub with my friends once in my first year of university and that was the only time. That pub was cool though because there was a dog! Anyway, I've pretty much always spent New Years either with my parents or with my friends at someone's house.

This year my fiancé's brother is staying with us and I think that they do fireworks on the beach opposite our house every year so we get a free show!

But before you run off to make the finishing touches to your party plans check out some of my suggestions to do today!

Something to eat:
Boozy Appetizers - Cucumber and rummy hummus
I love cucumber, I will eat it as if it's an apple and hummus is one of the tastiest things on the planet if it's done right so these look delicious to me. The added rum makes them a little bit different and grown up too. The recipe is from PETA and although I'm not a supporter, they do have some great veggie recipies.


Something to make:
DIY fabric bunting
Now this is actually an idea for a kids birthday party, but I think it would be fantastic for any occasion. At a New Years party you could clip on pictures of you, your family and your friends from earlier in the year to show everything you've done!

Cupcake toppers
I also love the idea of making little cake toppers like these, they add a touch of fun and silliness to a party. Just because you're a grown up doesn't mean you can't add a little childish fun into the mix! I always think that by doing fun little things like this it can help everyone relax.

Something to read:

For the animal product avoiding people out there, and all those who don't bother avoiding them at all, check out Like a Vegan for some very yummy, healthy recipes to start off your New Year!

Something to watch: 

For those who may be starting out the year by themselves or are feeling lonely right now, watch this:

How to be alone
" Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it."

Friday, 30 December 2011

Feature Friday: Comics

If you read this blog regularly, follow me on twitter or know me in real life then you should be aware of my love for comics. There is something about sequential art that makes me really happy, something about writing with pictures that makes me feel a rush when I discover a new gem.

Now, I read around 14 webcomics regularly, some of which update every day, some update three times a week and some less often. I also read a lot of comic books/graphic novels/manga too but I only really follow a few series. I particularly love big, chunky graphic novels that are one offs.

I am not going to talk about every single comic that I love, because we could be here for hours. Instead I thought I would just introduce you to a few of my favourites. Some of these I may have mentioned before because they're amazing.



Webcomics

Girls With Slingshots
Girls With Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto
I started reading Girls With Slingshots a few years ago and it astounds me that it's gone so far! I find it so strange to think back to the older story arcs and the older art style. Danielle is a really lovely person and you can tell that she loves her work. Girls With Slingshots is funny, heart-warming, silly and realistic if a little surreal at times. You can read Girls With Slingshots online or buy the books through the store.

Fishbones
Fishbones by written Jisuk Cho and drawn by Yuki S.
I had known about Fishbones for ages but I only got around to reading it recently. I have no idea what took me so long! This is my kind of story. Teenagers, friendship, the trials of growing up and gangsters. Fantastic. Obviously there is violence and swearing involved, seeing as the comic deals primarily with criminals, so if that's not your thing then you might want to skip it. But for me this is a really great comic and I always look forward to updates. Read it online at the Fishbones website.



Books - Series

DOGS: Bullets and Carnage
DOGS: Bullets and Carnage by Shirow Miwa
You're probably getting sick of me talking about DOGS but it really is my favourite comic book/manga series. This is the cover for the prelude, currently there are seven books in the series and they just keep getting better. 

I'll let the blurb speak for itself: 
Boasting furious action, switchback plotting, magnetic characters and dazzling art, DOGS tells the story of four individuals struggling to survive a dystopian urban future by gun and sword and courage and luck.

 Wet Moon
Wet Moon by Ross Campbell
 This is another one that I knew about for ages but only got around to reading recently. I've followed Ross on deviantART for absolutely ages and always loved his style, and Wet Moon does not disappoint. It can be a little hard to find in stores and Ross himself told me that you generally have to request a copy if you want to buy it in a shop, so I get mine through Amazon. Wet Moon is set in the Deep South, it's gothy, angsty and haunting, it's about friendship, romance, sex, betrayal, gossip, murder, guilt and "all the terrible and wonderful things people do to each other".



Books - Stand alone

Solanin
Solanin by Inio Asano
This one again! Solanin is a gorgeous manga both art-wise and story-wise. If you've ever felt lost and confused about your place in the world, dissatisfied with your job, yearned for something more out of your life and felt stuck between being an kid and an adult then read this. It's realistic, funny and heartbreaking in it's honesty. Meiko is one of my favourite heroines because she's so real. She's not perfect, she's actually very ordinary. She works a job that she hates, has a boyfriend who she loves but is always crashing at her apartment because he can't afford his own place, parents who love her but are a little suffocating and a group of fantastic, if some what immature friends. She wants to be an adult but at the same time feels that she's not cut out to be a part of the real world so is left straddling the line between being a student and being a grown up.

I read Solanin for the first time in my third year of university, but even now two years later as I sit here with two degrees and a writing job I find that the themes in Solanin still ring true, as I imagine they do for many people. 

That is why it is my favourite book, and that is why you should read it.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Thursday Thought

Sylvia Path's rejection letter for Ariel

Even the best writers have been rejected, as you can see here: 50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected.

"Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"True success is overcoming the fear of being unsuccessful." - Paul Sweeney

"This is for writers yet to be published who think the uphill climb will never end. Keep believing. This is also for published writers grown jaded by the process. Remember how lucky you are." - Terry Brooks

Ursula Le Guin's rejection letter for The Left Hand of Darkness

So if you've sent your manuscript out and have been rejected, if you're still waiting for replies and are worrying or if you haven't sent it out yet and are scared, you're not alone. Every writer you see has been in exactly the same place as you. Some, like Sylvia Plath, were rejected many times but that didn't stop them from trying, and it shouldn't stop you either!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Coveted Cover: Midwinterblood

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
I bought this pretty much the day after seeing Marcus Sedgwick talk about it at the Bath Children's Literature Festival this year, but I still haven't had a chance to read it because of my stack of review books and general life getting in the way.

I love the cover but at the same time find it strange, I don't really understand how it links in with the rest of the book. At first glance it makes me think of a Victorian Jack-the-Ripper-esque story but I know that this isn't the case with the book at all, in fact it's set in 2073 and was inspired by this old Swedish painting:

Midvinterblot (Midwinter Sacrifice) by Carl Larsson
Despite this confusion I still love the cover and I am sure that it will make more sense once I read the book. Marcus Sedgwick's book often have that effect, making no sense until you actually read them, and then they're always amazing.

I also just wanted to add that Carl Larsson is one of my favourite artists and I love that one of his paintings inspired a writer I enjoy reading so much.

From Goodreads:
Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you've never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens. In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumour has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they've lost. In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon - the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter's moon, the blood moon - this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Page Turners: The Goddess Test


I am currently reading:
The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter
Okay, I know this book has had mixed reviews from people writing raves to others slating it as one of the worst books ever written. So far it's taken me three days to read just 18 pages because it's just so...boring. That and I would also like to know why gods would have normal people names (Walter. Seriously?) and care at all about what mortals think or do. Ancient gods generally only took notice of mortals when they were giving them what they wanted, or weren't paying them enough attention, or when the gods were bored. Gods liked to play games, they liked testing mortals so that they could become gods. Real tests too, ones where you'd mostly likely end up dead or at the very least lose most of your limbs. Gods also, especially Zeus liked to drink a lot and have lots of sex, often with their relatives. I'm not getting even a hint of awesome godliness so far in this book. My teen angst sense is tingling, and there's nothing more annoying than an all powerful god with angst.

I know I haven't read very much, but so far I'm not impressed at all. Which is a pity because the blurb promises so much. It's part of a trilogy too I believe, with book two already making it's way towards publication.

From Goodreads:
Every girl who has taken the test has died. Now it's Kate's turn.
When her mother's dying wish is to return to her home town, Kate's willing to do anything to make it come true. Even if it means starting at a new school with no friends - and no hope. Then she meets Henry. Dark, tortured and mesmerising, Henry offers Kate a reprieve. She thinks he's crazy. Yet when he brings a dead girl back to life right in front of Kate's eyes she's not so sure any more... Claiming to be Hades, God of the Underworld, Henry's prepared to make Kate a deal. He'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
If she succeeds, she'll become a goddess - and Henry's bride.
If she fails she'll never see her mother again...

Monday, 26 December 2011

Watch This: Sketchi

Rather than a 'Listen To This' I thought I would give you something to watch. This animated short was created by a friend of mine for her university course (in Canada), it was also shown at festivals and she was featured in the newspaper!

So, enjoy.

Sketchi

Back to reality

So it's Boxing Day and we're back to the normal blog posts. I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! My pet rat, Brave, died some time on Christmas morning so that was very upsetting and we had to bury her in a big plant pot in the back yard. She was a lovely little girl and always very friendly. I found her asleep on her hot water bottle/thermos that we used to give her once she was put into a separate cage. She had a stroke a few weeks ago so had to be separated from her three sisters and was doing okay with lots of help. So yes, at least she went peacefully.

Aside from that our Christmas was lovely. We made dinner for us and my fiancé's Dad and Granny, then spent the rest of the day playing games, watching TV and eating far too much chocolate.

I hope that you enjoyed the Twelve Days of Christmas updates but are still looking forward to returning to the usual posts!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Well good morning everyone! I hope you're all having great fun ripping open your presents, listening to Christmas music and generally being silly.

Or doing whatever it is you like to do if you don't celebrate this holiday.

Either way I hope that everyone has a lovely day!

Molly x

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas is nearly here!


Twelve Days of Christmas: Day #12

My Book Of The Year!

This was a real toughy because there have been so many good books this year. I had to do a search through my GoodReads account to make sure I remembered all the books I read! According to that I have read 50 books this year, which was my goal! Although some were re-reads, that just goes to show how awesome those books are. It also shows just how many comics I read.

So, of all the books I have read this year...

*drumroll*

Molly's Book Of The Year is...


I really enjoyed Wolf Blood and out of the books published this year that I have read, it's definitely one of my favourites. I really hope that there is a second book because I wasn't ready for it to finish. I would recommend it to anyone who loves reading YA, especially if you like fantasy, Celts and snow.

You can read my review here at Mostly Reading YA. I gave it a 4/5!

I decided to only choose from books published this year, to narrow it down, and I haven't included comics because I'm guessing that most people who read my blog are into books.

Out of the rest of the books I read this year, regardless of publication date, and including comic/graphic novels, my favourite is:


I Kill Giants, possibly the best graphic novel I've ever read.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day #11

2 Novels I Wrote In 2011
Image from: TJ Winnipeg
Well I finished my masters this year. In the final half of the year, from around February time to September 29th I was working on my manuscript. I finished the first draft in May, the second draft around July time and then most of the third draft was done by the end of September for our hand in. We had to write, edit and submit 40,000 words, we also had a personal tutor who read through the manuscript and talked to us about changes etc a few times. I think I met my tutor three times? Once was on Skype. Then this manuscript is marked by our tutor and a second marker, we got our marks back in October along with some feedback.

I got some lovely feedback from both my markers, but I was especially pleased when the second marker said she ended up forgetting that she was marking something and read it as a story!

So, once the masters was over I decided to pop my manuscript to one side for a while and let it stew while I finished off my second novel. Which is technically my first. I started it back in 2009 I think, during my second year at university but it was put to one side because of my masters. I wanted to start something new and I wasn't entirely sure where the plot was going. I finished my second novel for NaNoWriMo!

An extract from my first novel is appearing in the Bath Spa University MA Writing For Young People Anthology, which we decided to call "Writes of Passage" this year. I'll post a link to the website once I have it up and running and then you can nose around.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Review: Wolf Blood by N.M. Browne

Read my review of Wolf Blood: here

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day #10

3 Sequels I Can't Wait For In 2012
Image from: amyr_81
Hallowed
The Spook's Blood 
Once I catch up!
DOGS: Bullets and Carnage Volume 7
There's nothing out about it, but I've seen leaked scans around online so who knows.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day #9


4 Books I Can't Believe I Still Haven't Read!
Image from: KieuvyNyuyen

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else. 

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel. 

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage. 

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about. 

Until now. 

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.
A story of alchemy, family and an astonishing new creation, snow.

On a winter night so cold the fires freeze in the hearth, a mysterious guest appears at the door of Lettie's inn. He claims to be the greatest alchemist that ever lived and that he can change her life forever. But in a wild adventure across the five continents and the Occidental Ocean, Lettie discovers the true value of snow, friendship and family.
Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you've never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens. In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumour has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they've lost. In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon - the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter's moon, the blood moon - this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting.




Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day #8

5 Events I Attended In 2011
Image from: Alice Harold
Thanks to the Bath Spa University Writing for Young People MA (also just want to mention that when I studied English Lit BA, which I dropped at the end of my first year, and Creative Writing BA I also got to meet lots of wonderful writers and academics, from my tutors to people such as Melvin Burgess)

I got to attend several events hosted by the course! So, at those I got to meet:

John McClay who is a very well known and talented book scout. I met him several times because he taught one of the modules which we had twice in the second half of the year, and I met him at one of the other events the course held. He's absolutely lovely and gave me my copy of Gill Lewis' Sky Hawk!

We had an event where several agents, such as two lovely agents from Felicity Bryan, came in to talk. They were mostly interested in adult novels but their advice was still very interesting and useful.

United Agents lovely Jodie Marsh came in to talk to us about the agency, what she looks for in young adult and children's writing and about the competition they hold for course members.

Lucy Christopher, Julia Green and Steve Voake (tutors for the Creative Writing BA and Writing for Young People MA courses) talked to everyone about their writing processes which very interesting. It also puts your mind at ease to know that it's perfectly normal to spend a lot of time staring out of windows, and that as a writer that does constitute work as long as you do something with your ideas! It's also totally normal to have no idea where something is going!

Lastly I attended the Bath Children's Literature Festival this year and saw the lovely Marcus Sedgewick, Julia Green (again), Jodie Marsh (again), Sam Gayton (author of The Snow Merchant) and Karen Saunders (author of Baby Badger's Wonderful Night).

Monday, 19 December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day #7

6 Favourite Characters Of 2011
Image from: amyr_81
Tom from The Wardstone Chronicles is always a favourite of mine. He's also one of the few characters who has never irritated me at all!

Trista from Wolf Blood. She's strong, courageous and underneath her hard, warrior exterior she's very caring, even if she doesn't show it very much.

Pretty much everyone from The Meek but especially Pinter. I love his expressions and how surly he can be.

Barbara from I Kill Giants. I adore her. I love how she's very tough, sarcastic but very sensitive. I don't want to ruin the story too much through. Read it.

Rosa from Arcadia Awakens. At first I wasn't sure about her, she seemed very typical angsty teenage girl with her gothy clothing (lots of black and spiky boots) but the more you get to know about her past and her family the more you come to understand and love her. You come to realise that she is very clever and very strong, even when her problems seem insurmountable.

Badou from DOGS: Bullets and Carnage. I love most of the characters but there is something special about this chilled, funny and very lucky ginger haired guy who goes crazy when he runs out of cigarettes.

Listen To This: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga  - Edge of Glory

Lady Gaga is one of those artists where I love a lot of their songs but I think that a lot of what they do is really stupid...yet I can't help but still like them. Anyway, I really like this song, but I think the video is kind of boring in comparison, in my head it is much more powerful.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day #6

7 Favourite Covers Of 2011
Image from: Anastasia Abramova

I love The Meek and I love the cover. It's so well done. It gives you a good feeling of the comic/graphic novel and also hints at just one of the many story-lines within it's pages. 

Gorgeous, just gorgeous and really sums up the feel of the book.
I wasn't sure about the cover at first because you see a lot of YA romance/fantasy books with the same kind of covers: hot girl in big dress. But I do actually really like the font, the feather, the trees, the colour and I just hope they continue the theme because I've seen another cover floating around for the second book that I do not approve of.
I haven't read it yet, and I've heard mixed reviews, but I do think that the cover is pretty gorgeous.
I love it. I love the cover and I love that it's continued through onto the inside.
I know that it took a while for Gill and the publishers to find a cover that they really liked and thought fit the book. I think it had a few versions, some Gill preferred more than others, but it was this one that won out. I think it's simple and I love the reflections in the osprey's eyes.
I just love the art style of DOGS: Bullets and Carnage. So I pretty much always love the covers.  Giovanni Rammsteiner is a bad-ass and this cover  shows that.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day #5

8 Favourite Books Of 2011
Image from: syd delicious
This list made me realise that I read a lot of books and a lot of comics, and that some how comics always seem to connect with me more powerfully than most novels. Come on writers! Up your game and entice me with stories and characters as awesome as those in my favourite graphic novels! By the way, not all of these books were published in 2011 some are a little older but I only got around to reading them this year, most are parts of a series so do have a newer instalment that came out this year.

I keep thinking about this book. I need the sequel! My life will be incomplete without it!
Loved it, some small niggles but otherwise it's amazing. I'm not very fond of the cover though.
This was published in 2009 but I didn't get to read it until this year. Either way, read The Wardstone Chronicles because they are kick ass.
We own the limited boxset of Girly that was published on demand, so I can't show you the other covers. Girly is an awesome, very strange, very silly and not for kids comic. Expect sex and sillyness and lesbians.
Another comic. I read this one online but there is a book. It doesn't update very often and has been going for a while but read it. It's one of the few webcomics out there that have a really amazing art style and equally amazingly detailed world and story.
Another comic. Read it. Do not research it because you will spoil it. Read it and if you don't love it then, I'm sorry but we can't be friends.
This is not a book about vegetarianism. This is a book about a man finding out about where the meat on his table comes from, what happens to it during it's life, death and after wards, and also what happens to the people involved. I love this book because it is well written and truthful. Nothing is dressed up to sound better or worse than it is. You are not told what to think but presented with the facts and examples so you can make up your own mind. I don't see any reason for someone not to read this book.
This is my favourite manga series. It is an 18+ because it is violent. Seriously. But it's also full of fantastic characters that I love and I also love to hate. Plus most of the characters are super attractive which makes it easy on the eye. The actions scenes are really intense but this isn't your standard boys comic. Yes there's lots of guns and explosions and swearing and gangsters and all that, but the characters all have really interesting pasts and the storyline is deep, dark and drip fed to you. I don't want this series to ever end!

 
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